Only 15 years ago, the landscape of the music industry was dramatically different from the way it looks today. The iPod and the digital music revolution had yet to be unleashed on the world, and people generally bought most of their music “the old-fashioned way”—that is, by CD. Since then, major digital retailers such as iTunes and Amazon have come to dominate the market. The modern music listener generally prefers to buy digital, and they like to do it online. Not only does acquiring online music offer users more listening options than even the most comprehensive record store, the process is generally cheaper and easier than it ever has been. For the most part, these changes in the music industry have created many new advantages for people like you, the independent recording artist. Truly, it has never been simpler for recording artists to utilize the web’s many exciting tools in order to reach their target audiences. Simply put, it’ now cheaper than ever to record you music and make it available to a variety of listeners through a variety of different online platforms. This is not to say, of course, that there won’t be hard work involved. With new technologies come new challenges, and one of the biggest hurdles young artists face these days is trying to stand out in a crowd that seems to be growing larger all the time. While it’s a great thing that anyone with the right computer setup and a couple decent microphones can lay down professional-quality tracks from the comfort of their home, it also means that there’s going to be more competition for attention. To make it in the music world today, even if their goals are modest, the modern musician has to develop a strong set of skills to help them get noticed. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is that quality music is still what’s ultimately going to drive your sales. A record producer I once worked with put it to me very bluntly: “You can polish a piece of garbage all day long,” he said, “but at the end of the day you’ve still got a shiny piece of trash.” As I take you through this guide and share my hard-earned techniques for success with you, I want you to keep this phrase in mind. While it’s incredibly important that you as a musician are able to drive attention to your product, don’t forget that the quality of that product is still the most important thing. Most die-hard music listeners sport more than 10,000 different songs in their digital music libraries, and if you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle, you’ve got to make sure you stand out. Of course, I can’t help you learn how to write the next must-hear groove. That’s a journey you’ll have to take on your own, a journey that will likely take you years to perfect. Think of this book as your next step. Once you’ve got the tunes it’s time to show them off to the world. But let me tell you from experience that you are far more likely to succeed if you come up with a strong plan of action first in order to generate the highest return for your money and time.